Santa Clara University School of Law

by Maya Itah on

Santa Clara University School of Law


Santa Clara University School of Law

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, California 95053
(408) 554-4361

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TippingTheScales (2013): NR
U.S. News (2013): 96
AboveTheLaw (2013): NR




Academics & Programs: Jesuit-affiliated Santa Clara University School of Law “in the heart of Silicon Valley” is a smaller school that manages to offer “a wide range” of courses across a host of legal areas. As you would expect given the location, Santa Clara Law boasts “one of the top ranking high-tech programs in the nation.” The course work in patent and intellectual property law is “tremendous,” and students regularly intern with “the vast array” of existing mammoth corporations as well as the next generation of mammoth corporations here “in the venture-capital capital of the country.” The international law program is also extensive and “incredible.” Study abroad opportunities are mind-blowing. There are a dozen different programs in twenty cities around the globe including—just to cite a few— Istanbul, Budapest, and Shanghai. In addition, there are several unique international judicial externships and international internships available. Still another perk here is the prominent focus on public interest and social justice law. SCU is teeming with institutes, centers, and programs that allow students to do “great things for people.”

“Real-world experience” is one of the hallmarks of the professors at Santa Clara Law. “Some are brilliant savants, but you just can’t learn from them.” On the whole, though, faculty members are “top-notch,” “dedicated to teaching,” and “obviously committed to their students.” Professors are “approachable” as well. They “really engage students” outside of class” “about their past experiences and future hopes.” Administratively, lower-level staff can be “somewhat surly,” and sometimes the decisions of the top brass “leave much to be desired,” but the general consensus is that management is “extremely accommodating” and “very concerned with student feedback.” “It would be difficult to find another law school that cares so much about [its] students and actually does something about it,” beams a 1L.

Santa Clara’s lush, “peaceful” campus is “simply gorgeous and kept very nicely.” It’s also home to some “great facilities.” The law school facilities are pretty mundane, though. “The classrooms are classrooms,” says a 3L. The law library is “certainly adequate,” but it’s “fairly depressing.” It’s “dark, and the temperature controls suck.” On the bright side, the undergrad library “right next door” is “incredibly awesome,” and it’s a regular haunt for law students.

Santa Clara has a stellar reputation in the Bay Area, and career prospects are solid. More than eighty percent of all newly minted graduates head off to the private sector, where median starting salaries are very impressive. Quite a few students take jobs in Silicon Valley. San Francisco is another common destination. Santa Clara Law’s “very accessible, passionate, successful, and helpful alumni network” is a huge advantage when students are looking for work. They are “very willing to give back to the school and provide advice and opportunities to current students.” “Sometimes it feels like the entire community of attorneys in the South Bay graduated from Santa Clara,” explains a 3L, “especially when it comes to district attorneys, public defenders, and judges.” The alumni base and the SCU brand name aren’t as strong nationally, though. “Nobody knows about it outside of the San Francisco area,” laments another 3L.

Campus Life/Facilities: “The school’s location allows it to attract a diverse group of highly educated students.” In terms of ethnicity, Santa Clara Law is among the most diverse schools in the country. “Varying ages,” radically different life experiences, and a solid geographic distribution also make for “a good mix.” Academically, a few students “are jerks and should be quarantined,” but “there usually is a positive vibe around the school.” “It is a very welcoming environment that engenders very happy students.” “We’re a social tribe,” explains a 1L. “We might be graded on a curve but you’d never know it from how everyone treats each other.”

“Student life is collaborative.” “There’s a club or society for everything under the sun.” “Stimulating” speakers including local corporate bigwigs are frequent, and “The school makes a real effort to engage its alumni and host events where students can meet them.” “Social activities and opportunities for students to get together” are also commonplace. “We study hard, but we also go out a lot on the weekends and form some close-knit friendships,” says a 3L. The cost of living in Silicon Valley is very high, and the city of Santa Clara is “decidedly not a college town.” The locale is “green and sunny most of the year,” though, and the Bay Area offers quite a bit to do. When students need a break from their casebooks or law school in general, heading up to San Francisco is pretty common.

* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.

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